Monday, August 17, 2009

Driving in Bombay

India has the highest number of road accidents in the world-13 an hour. And the figure is only going to go up.
A motorist in Bombay truly suffers- from traffic jams, naka bandis, dug up roads, construction of flyovers or monorail, pot-holed roads, flooded roads,lack of parking places, towing away of your car, obstruction by tourist buses, BEST buses, taxis, rickshaws, hand carts, bullock carts, dogs, cows, garbage bins, garbage trucks, jaywalkers and even policemen who stand in the middle of the road or stop a passing truck.
Our pavements are either dug up or have debris lying on them for months, hutments, toilets for the hutment dwellers, STD booths, milk booths, Jhunka-bhakar stalls which sell everything but, extensions of shops or hotels, fencing off for growing plants, hawkers, cows, Municipal contractor's offices, police chowkies, dust bins, cars parked, basket makers, ganapati pandals, temples, offices of political parties and many more obstructions to their real use which is for pedestrians to walk on. 
The people of Bombay are forced to walk on the causeway exposing them to accidents by vehicles.
If rickshaws are not allowed on main roads, how come hand carts and bullock carts are allowed  completely blocking the flow of traffic? Is this a village?Isn't there a law against it? If so, why is it not being enforced? Rickshaw drivers and two wheelers have the worst manners and will go at snail pace in the fast lanes, cut lanes, stop in the middle of the road, disrespect signals, overtake from the left and generally make life hell for motorists
Taxis park any and everywhere, not at designated parking areas. even double park. thereby completely blocking roads.
The police carry out naka bandis without a thought for the huge snarls they might cause-not taking into account dug up roads, nor making an effort to allow smooth movement of traffic.
It is an open secret that politicians make huge amounts of money from any construction. Hence before an election, all major roads undergo some work leading to an impossible traffic situation-this could easily be done in a phased manner helping smooth flow of traffic.
Can't the BEST narrower buses that don't occupy half the road? and get rid of some that run empty? Further the BEST drivers are the worst road-hogs, cutting lanes, never stopping close to a pavement but right in the middle of the road, pushing other cars out-severe penalties should be laid on them and they should be taught some etiquette. garbage trucks are even worse-and dangerous too as is evident from the number of deaths caused by them.
Our pavements need to be freed of all the encroachments if people are to get some place to walk on. so that cars get some place to drive on. so that there is less road rage. and fewer accidents.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Maternity hospitals of Mumbai

Mumbai has a multitude of nursing homes. And several five star hospitals. And several government run hospitals. These are not at all appropriate in today's age and time.
If a middle class woman wants to have a baby, she can hardly afford Breach candy, Leelavati, Jaslok, Bombay hospital, Hiranandani, Wockhardt unless she can shell out Rs.40,000 or more for a normal delivery with a private room and an experienced gynaecologist. and these may be too far from her residence. If she needs a caesarean then it may go to Rs.75,000 to a lakh and a half-which is the main deterrent. She can hardly expect to be comfortable and rested if she shares a room with one to three other women in these hospitals if she needs or wants a hospital delivery but can't afford a single room.
Nor can she go to a municipal hospital or semi aided hospital for worries about overcrowding and infection.
So, she settles for a nursing home.-a mom and pop kind of place. where it may take up precious time if she needs a caesarean, blood, neonatologist, physician, surgeon or intensive care.
similar is the case for all middle class people even if they have insurance, but can't afford hospitals and have to settle for nursing homes.
Doctors too find this 'nursing home' set up restrictive. they cannot treat all the cases they may be qualified for and may not get an attachment to a large hospital due to lack of the right connections. it is also outright dangerous in some instances.
So what is the solution? simple. 'Cluster development'. instead of four nursing homes and path labs and bloods banks in four streets, have them in one place. with quarters for nurses, resident doctors, anaesthetists etc., an intensive care unit, a blood bank-the works. this is the logic behind co-operative farming.
The government should also step in and help such hospitals to develop-allotting land and giving permission for water, electricity etc. this will greatly benefit ordinary people and doctors. and solve a major problem we face in Mumbai today. This is how medicine is practised all over the world. Doctors are attached to hospitals-one in every locality.
Even small towns in India have large hospitals because real estate is affordable. not so in Mumbai. Hence Mumbai lags behind.
Everyone talks of rural health forgetting that we need an urban health policy that helps the middle class.
people are talking of 'fortune at the bottom of the pyramid'. This is a huge market waiting to be tapped in Mumbai.-a reasonably priced, multispeciality hospital in your locality with the best doctors of the area. And above all they should not neglect expectant mothers just because it is considered a risky business or not very lucrative like most of the newer hospitals in Mumbai.